Would you ever sail on a ship without a captain?
Could you drive a car without an engine?
Would you get on a plane without a pilot?
Our creative directors are the pilots, engines, and captains of client’s creative projects. They navigate the creative process and delegate creative tasks so that clients can focus on other matters, like enjoying the ride.
Collins Bolinger is one of our O.G. creative directors. He’s been a fixture at Designity since our early days. Today, we’re going to look behind the directing and get to know Collins on a whole new level.
Want to learn from the best?
This is Collins.
Q: What made you decide to become a designer?
A: Skipping school I think, actually. So, I was in high school and I skipped class. The next day, the counselor came and talked to me and it led to me having a work study my senior year. So, senior year, I only had two classes that I needed to be there for. I had work study at a commercial printer’s so I would go to school and then leave at lunch time to go to the printing company.
At first, it was like a job. Then the more I learned about it, the more I realized that they had a whole graphic design department but I didn’t really know what that was. I just liked art and computers. Graphic design is a combination of two things. So, I would go there and at first, I was working in the bindery. I was just this high school kid that came in and they were like ‘Here, pack these boxes’.
Q: When did you make your way into graphic design?
A: Eventually, I started going into the art department and ended up working there. I realized that it was something that I actually really liked and had some mentors in that department that taught me a whole lot. So, before I went to college, I kind of knew what it was. I’d done the job for almost a year, so it was a big leg up.
Most of the kids that I went to college with, it was kind of their first introduction and I already knew how to use all of the programs that were available at the time. I think for me, I was a little more focused in that way just because I knew what it was and I wanted to do it
Q: Did you leave college and immediately go into freelancing, or did you have a job lined up?
A: Yeah, so in college, I was probably as into snowboarding as I was school. Maybe a little bit more than school. Like, if it snowed, I probably wouldn’t have gone to class. So, I was looking at moving out west to be a ski bum or something. I didn’t really have a plan.
Then I met my wife and that all changed. We found out we were expecting our first child, and then that whole ski-bum thing kind of went out the window. I actually contacted the company I worked for in high school and I was like “Hey, I’m going to be back. Do you have any work for me?” and they said no, but to come in anyway.
Q. What was that first job like?
A: I would come in here and there, and would eventually just keep showing up, insisting on working there. I worked there for like, six years, in what they call the pre-press department. Most of it was other designers sending things to be printed so I checked the files to make sure that everything was going to print correctly. So, some design work but mostly production.
I think, especially looking back now, it’s probably why I’m good at what I do now, because that was kind of like bootcamp. It was really fast-paced, really high stress. Deadlines all the time, and it was helping me get really really efficient at doing the job.
I did that for like, six years. Honestly, the office life didn’t really agree with me. It was partly my attitude; I was young, too. I was a bit of a pain in the ass, I think.
Q. Were you freelancing while you were working there?
A: Yes. The whole time I’d been working, I had also been freelancing. Just little things here and there. It got to the point where I had as much work at home as I did at work. So, I quit the 9-5 and started doing my own thing. Most of it was print stuff to begin with, because web design and internet stuff hadn’t really taken off yet.
There was a point where clients started asking me if I could do websites and after saying ‘No’ a couple of times, eventually I just said yes.
I taught myself how to do it and all of the work shifted from ink on paper, to web related stuff. I did that for about ten years just kind of the same as now: me at my desk. It’s funny because when Covid hit, I remember talking to clients who were really used to being in the office and suddenly they were at home. Like this finance guy who was used to suits and boardrooms. When I would talk to him in 2020, he was in sweats, at home, like a fish out of water. I remember him asking me “How do you do this?!”.
I had been doing it for like a decade at that point, so I was like “It’s no big deal.”
Q. How did you find Designity?
A: When I was doing my own thing, it got to a point where I just wasn’t finding enough clients. I started looking online, tried Upwork, tried a bunch of different online things and I eventually found Designity. Nothing really happened at first.
I signed up, but it was a totally different format back then, and then it was maybe like six months, something like that, and Shahrouz reached out and said “Hey, I’ve got a project for you!”
Q. How did you get into this role?
A: I was a designer for Designity’s stuff and halfway through that, he asked me if I had ever considered becoming a creative director.
When I was on my own, I was technically a creative director anyway. I was finding clients, doing all the work, invoicing, doing taxes. I was basically a one man company. So, Shahrouz asked me to do that and I started right away.
I’ve been through all of the ups and downs here, the changes, and different things over the last four years.
<div class="c-blog_comp-cta cc-component-2"><div class="c-blog_comp-cta-left"><div class="c-blog_comp-cta-left-wrap"><img src="https://global-uploads.webflow.com/61cdf3c5e0b8155f19e0105b/6334d81a29c751ccd8c26638_brain-orchestra.png" loading="lazy" alt="" sizes="(max-width: 479px) 93vw, (max-width: 767px) 96vw, 363px" srcset="https://global-uploads.webflow.com/61cdf3c5e0b8155f19e0105b/6334d81a29c751ccd8c26638_brain-orchestra-p-500.png 500w, https://global-uploads.webflow.com/61cdf3c5e0b8155f19e0105b/6334d81a29c751ccd8c26638_brain-orchestra.png 500w" class="c-blog_comp-cta-left-img"></div></div><div class="c-blog_comp-cta-right cc-dark"><div class="c-blog_comp-content"><div class="c-text-wrapper cc-mb-32"><div class="c-title-4 cc-bold">Grow with a community that is exclusively inclusive!</div></div><div class="c-text-wrapper"><div class="c-text-2">Get inspiration from creative directors and level up from emerging creatives to the Chief of Design by collaborating on projects.</div></div></div><div class="c-blog_comp-wrapper"><a href="#" class="c-button w-button"><strong>Discover Your Growth Path</strong></a></div></div></div>
Q: What are your favorite types of projects to work on as a designer?
A: The more creative and artistic ones, for sure. Remember those crazy characters that I did for a client a while back? I like stuff like that. That’s me, that’s what I would do if I could. They’re the only client I’ve had at Designity, one of the only ones ever, who said that I have complete creative freedom.
They actually meant it. They gave us time, and those two things together, the creative freedom and the time, produced those wacky characters and those cool designs. That’s the kind of stuff that I would do if it was just up to me.
Q: What about as a CD, what would be your favorite type of project to manage creatives on?
A: I’ve never really thought about it. I think, as the creative director, I’m only doing a little bit of the creative side. I kind of get everybody started and then pass it off. I still work as a designer here and there, though.
Q: Do you miss the design side of things?
A: I do, and then when I try to do designs…Yeah, I see some of the stuff that the younger designers are doing and I realize that I should just let them do it. I think for me now, it’s mostly about the people. If you have a really awesome client, your day is great. If you have really difficult clients, it’s not. I’ve been really fortunate to have some really good ones and have taken on some new clients recently which is always scary, but they turned out to be really cool, too.
The designers are awesome. And there are so many of them now! It used to be hard to find designers, and I did a lot of it myself.
Q: What is your favorite type of project?
A: Definitely website design. That’s the thing I like the most. But I haven’t really done it recently, because the clients I’ve had, most of them, I’ve worked with for more than two years. We did their websites when they started and now it’s just maintaining it.
Q: What is your favorite part about working at Designity?
A: The freedom to be at my own desk, kind of be my own boss so to speak. It’s very structured, and it’s so fast paced, it’s not like I can just do stuff whenever I want. It’s just the control. Being able to plan my day. Like I said, I wasn’t really suited for office life. I worked in this little gray cubicle for years and it was not fun. Now, I have really big speakers and a turntable, and I can blast my music as loud as I want.
It’s just me doing my thing, and you can’t really do that when you work in an office.
Q: What is the quirkiest thing about you as a person?
A: That I’m not quirky, I guess. I’m pretty laid back. Even thinking about doing the introduction presentation, when I finally do mine, it’s going to be so boring!
Well, actually, I do have something.
I really like disc golf!
It’s like golf but with frisbees and drinking. It’s kind of my anti-work.